It will take effort on the part of every sector of the community to end homelessness, and businesses are an important part of every community. Engaging local companies in ending homelessness provides access to otherwise inaccessible funding, resources, free or discounted services and many important contacts for service organizations.

Recognizing many common community needs from which commercial businesses and families alike can benefit, it is helpful to partner with business around critical issues like affordable housing.

Examples include:

Annual Fundraiser to End Homelessness

Local businesses can provide event sponsorship, including advertising, contacts, food, and donated items for auction

Corporate group volunteerism

Throughout the year, local businesses donate time and often materials to help shelters and providers like House of Hope, Inc. Companies can send teams of people to provide a day of service to the organization.

Challenges and Effective Ways to Address Them

Challenges to Engaging

Strategies to Overcome

Have not worked with business partners before- making connections.

  • Focus on networking. Utilize the contacts and resources of large Boards of Directors, on which many business and community leaders serve.
  • Recognize any business or person who donates time or items with a personalized letter of thanks. Recognition is critical.
  • Develop partnerships and promote them as an important and contributing part of the community.

Need for education about homelessness and how non-profit or Regional Network is contributing to the community.

  • Educate businesses about the issues related to homelessness and its impact on the business community.
  • Generate public acknowledgement of their efforts. Staff is always available for speaking engagement, tours, etc.
  • Hire local people

Example of contributing to the community:

Emmaus, Inc., a non-profit organization that provides housing to homeless families in Haverhill, has purchased property within the community and gone to great lengths to make renovations and improvements to it; increasing the value of the property and establishing themselves as an active participant in Haverhill.

Businesses are bottom-line oriented so it can be challenging to get funds from them especially during difficult economic times.

  • Partnering with them around common problems is key (e.g. affordable housing is also important to businesses trying to recruit staff.)
  • Provide education about the underlying causes of homelessness.
  • Be creative and think outside the box in terms of how a business can help. Be responsive and flexible. Point out the clear benefit to them

Examples include: Wellspring House Inc., which manages a job shadowing/training program for medical administrative interns, some of whom are hired and become excellent employees.)